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Cincinnati interpreter using social media to dispel COVID vaccine myths in African communities

Medical interpreter Abda Tall, pictured in this provided photo after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination shot, is using social media to dispel misinformation about the virus circulating through Cincinnati's African communities.
Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 20:54:12-05

LINCOLN HEIGHTS, Ohio — For interpreter Abda Tall, shooting cell phone video is also a way of shooting down myths circulating through Greater Cincinnati's African communities about COVID-19 and the vaccines meant to prevent its spread.

Tall interprets for patients who do not speak English at Healthcare Connection Inc. in the village of Lincoln Heights. With patients' permission, he has begun filming vaccinations as a way of normalizing the procedure for local communities he said are being fed misinformation from back home.

"Some people are getting information this vaccine is not good. 'Do not take it,'" he said. "And then some people are getting videos from Europe, from everywhere, without knowing who is giving those informations."

Cincinnati resident and Mauritania native Ousmane Sow confirmed Tall's concerns.

"There are people that still don't believe that the virus does exist," he told WCPO. "To them, it's just something that doesn't exist because it didn't impact them."

Sow said language barriers make the problem worse.

"My concern is for the confusion it will cause for not just the children but even for some of the adults...due to the lack of understand what is said in the English language or what is being said in medical terms," he said.

That's why Tall recruits patients from his community in the Tri-State to convince others to pursue vaccination against the virus that has killed more than half a million U.S. residents in less than a year.

One of those patients, Abdoul Mbow, told WCPO he has gotten flack from his friends and family for getting the vaccine.

"They think I am crazy to take the shot," he said. "When I put it on Facebook, (from) everywhere I get a call."

Tall's hope is that the more people in local and other African communities across the U.S. see his social media posts, the more lives those videos might save.

"I believe that may save thousands of lives of people in the globe because they're calling me back saying, if this were not you, I would not believe this is true," he said.

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Senior Reporter Larry Seward is focusing his reporting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring you answers and information. Contact Larry at 513-667-4804 or larry.seward@wcpo.com.